The last time I interviewed Vic Gundotra was some six years ago, back when he was still the top executive at Google’s not yet ghost town of a social network, Google+, and he was as Google-y as you’d expect about how amazing and wonderful it was going to be.
Fast forward to today, and Gundotra is now the CEO of health tech startup AliveCor, and he’s no less eloquent about his new company’s sense of mission and the purpose it brings to its main work. Which includes things like making it possible to use a smartphone to take an electrocardiogram.
You can see where this is going. “Apple doesn’t like to admit they copy anyone, even in the smallest things,” Gundotra told Business Insider after watching Apple’s unveiling of the Watch Series 4 Wednesday. During the event, of course, Apple made a big deal about the ability to eventually use the watch to take an electrocardiogram reading. There’s a new sensor that lets you use the watch to tell whether you have a normal or irregular heartbeat, among lots of other health features.
“It was amazing, it was like us being on stage, with the thing we’ve been doing for 7 years,” Gundotra told BI. He was referring to, according to the news site, “AliveCor’s product for detecting atrial fibrillation (AFib), a tough-to-spot heart disorder that manifests as an irregular, often quick heart rate that can cause poor circulation.”
His startup employs almost 50 people and makes ECG testing devices and software, as well as an FDA-approved Apple Watch band and another version of that band that attaches to a smartphone.
During the event Wednesday, Apple claimed the new watch model will represent the first “over-the-counter” consumer ECG testing device. That’s the part Gundotra seemed to be disputing, though CNBC reporter Chrissy Farr shared some helpful context via Twitter:
Have clarity on this — Alivecor is available to buy over the counter or online, but a doctor reviews the first ECG to "unlock" it within 24 hours. After that, immediate results. Apple has clearance from FDA to deliver that reading to consumers right away.https://t.co/20679iJ3Cj
— Christina Farr (@chrissyfarr) September 12, 2018
So there you go. What’s not at all unclear, meanwhile, is the difference in pricing between the two companies’ products. The Apple Watch 4 starts at $399, while AliveCor’s hardware starts at $300 less than that.
In his BI interview, Gundotra described AliveCor as being comparable to a really great restaurant in a kind of out-of-the-way part of town. With what Apple is doing with the new watch, it’s like “someone just opened a giant restaurant right next to us, bringing a lot more attention.”